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Surviving at Real Madrid is mission impossible

Surviving at Real Madrid is mission impossible

With a place in the Champions League last sixteen assured and Ronaldo back in action and back on the scoresheet, Wanderley Luxemburgo might have thought he had weathered the storm.

But Real Madrid, the world's richest and most impatient club, is six points adrift of bitter rival Barcelona and, for the fans and the powers-that-be at the famed Bernabeu Stadium, enough was enough.

Luxemburgo was sacked on Sunday, becoming the fifth coach to be given the push since 2003, another victim of the club's failed pursuit of a 30th league title.

Carlos Queiroz, Josi Antonio Camacho, Mariano Garcia Remon and now Luxemburgo, after less than a year in charge, have all tried and failed.

The irony would not have been lost on Vicente del Bosque who was sacked in 2003 despite winning two domestic titles and two Champions League crowns in four years.

"His system proved reliable but from now on we want a coach who has a more tactical and technical approach," said club president Florentino Perez at the time of del Bosque's departure which came just a day after securing a 29th title. "I understand that the fans will be shocked. But as with all decisions, time will tell if we are right or wrong."

Many fans who have jeered Luxemburgo and his 'galacticos' in recent weeks will say that Perez was wrong.

Failure to win silverware this season would be the first time the trophy cabinet has been empty in 53 years.

Despite the expensive acquisitions of Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Ronaldo, Robinho and the now departed Luis Figo and Michael Owen, Real is no nearer another Spanish title.

Queiroz, widely recognized as a highly capable coach, was unable to solve Real's weaknesses at the back and his authority was dogged by reports of anarchy amongst his pampered stars.

He lasted nine months.

Next in the hot-seat was former national coach Jose Antonio Camacho, a former player with the club, and a no-nonense man at the helm who bucked no rebellion.

He brought order to the dressing room and was respected by the hierarchy.

But his reign lasted just five months after demanding Zidane simplify his game and that Ronaldo do the unthinkable and track back for defenders.

After Camacho, the baton was passed to Mariano Garcia Remon who was gone by Christmas 2004 after just three months at the helm. As a former youth team trainer, he never gained the respect of his squad.

On December 30, 2004, in came Luxemburgo.

He was a solid technician having worked with the Brazilian national team whom he once coached to the Copa America crown.

However, he was accused in some quarters of allowing power in the team to be dominated by the Brazilian imports at the expense of the Spaniards.

Luxemburgo's tactics were also questioned and after a recent defeat to Barca, his time was always going to be limited.

On Sunday, the ax came down and now Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, who is charge of the team's reserve team Real Madrid Castilla, which plays in the Spanish second division, finds himself trying to avoid the executioner.

Madrid had beaten city rivals Getafe 1-0 on Saturday in a game which saw England skipper David Beckham sent-off.

But despite the win, Luxemburgo was sacked after an emergency meeting on Sunday and replaced by Caro.

Butragueno said Lopez Caro will be in charge for tomorrow's European Champions League game against Olympiakos in Athens.

"We want to reflect and in the next few weeks we'll make a decision," Butragueno said.

Juventus coach Fabio Capello, who guided Real to the league title in 1997, Liverpool's Rafael Benitez, England's Sven-Goran Eriksson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger all have been suggested as possible permanent replacements.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has even been mentioned.

Madrid announced Luxemburgo's dismissal following a meeting between club president Florentino Perez, Butragueno and director of soccer Arrigo Sacchi and an emergency session of its board at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Butragueno said the board's decision was unanimous and said that Luxemburgo's four Brazilian assistants would also leave.

Barca stays top

In Sunday's games, champion Barcelona stayed top of the Spanish League on Sunday after a comfortable 2-0 win over Villareal

Barcelona had a horrendous defensive error to thank for its lead in the 24th minute.

An innocuous cross was punched out by Villarreal's goalkeeper Sebastien Vieira into the knee of Bolivian defender Juan Manuel Pena, who could only watch on in horror as the ball trickled into the back of the net.

Brazilian-born Portuguese playmaker Deco made it two for Barcelona with half an hour to play, driving home a shot from outside the area which was also deflected off Pena.

Osasuna saw off Malaga with goals from Cameroonian Pierre Webo (23) and midfielder Valdo (41) after the southern club had clawed one back through Ignacio Nacho in the 37th minute.

In other Primera Liga action: Espanyol 1, Valencia 3; Sevilla 0, Deportivo La Coruna 2; Cadiz 1, Zaragoza 2; Alaves 0, Mallorca 3; Racing Santander 2, Real Sociedad 2.

Sven backs Becks

Meanwhile despite speculation over whether Beckham should remain captain of England, following his fourth dismissal this season, England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson insisted that he would be sticking with him. Pundits had been fingering Chelsea captain John Terry as a possible replacement.

"We have many players who could be the captain in the team and that is very good. It is important they act as captain but Beckham will be the captain," he said.

Updated : 2021-07-24 22:52 GMT+08:00